My hometown of Beacon, NY celebrates it’s centennial this year, and as part of an exhibition, I was asked by the organizers if I had any photos of the region from the top of Mt Beacon. I have plenty of course, but they wanted something that could be printed farily large, around 8 feet wide. I knew that for the print to be effective, it would have to show really good detail and have good lighting to make it as dimensional as possible. So that meant shooting a new image, and also using multiple exposures to capture as much resolution as possible.
The view of Beacon from the summit of Mt Beacon is due west, so I knew a sunrise shot would be best to get good even lighting from the city itself, the Hudson River, and further back to the Catskill Mountains. Shooting at sunset would have given me backlight, which would have created possible flare issues and also placed much of the background into shadow. Plus sunrise would provide a chance for some atmosphere like fog, and in fact the day I made the shot that’s exactly what happened!
Capture and Workflow
I planned to get to the summit of Mt Beacon 20 mins before sunrise. and then wait for the best conditions. I wanted direct light onto the city itself, so that meant waiting about 10 mins or so after sunrise before I made the exposures. I shot 13 images on my tripod with my Canon 1DS Mk III and 24–105 lens set at around 35mm. Settings were 1/80th sec @f/11, ISO 400. Though I used a tripod, I didn’t want to take any chances with slower shutter speeds and possible blur from movement in the trees, especially since I was going to make such a large print and there was a very slight breeze. ISO 100 gave me 1/20th sec, so by going to ISO 400, I got a much safer 1/80th sec. And I know from trial and error than f/11 is really sharp on that lens, and didn’t really need any more depth of field.
I imported all the RAW files into Lightroom and adjusted one of the captures in the Develop module to get it looking as best as I could. Then I synced that image to the other 12 and tweaked the others slightly for differences in lighting, etc. Then I exported all the images to Photoshop CS6 using the “Merge to Panorama in Photoshop” command, then waited for the gigantic image to appear. I had to straighten the horizon slightly using the warp tool, cleaned up some sensor spots, then saved back into Lightroom for final adjustments and printing.
Printing and Display
When I was done, the final image was almost 50MP, more than enough for me to print an 8 foot wide panorama at 180ppi on my Canon iPF8400. I printed on canvas for several reasons – the budget was very limited, it would be easy to transport and display, and it would allow viewers to really appreciate the print without any glass or glare. The whole idea was to make it as immersive as possible, and let people get close to the print and appreciate the detail and scale.
In the end, I’m really happy with the way it turned out, and it’s been well recived by visitors and locals alike. If you’re in town, drop by the River Center at Long Dock Park to check it out! A big thank you to Jeff McHugh for the inspiration, support and confidence in the project!
Any questions or feedback, I’m always glad to respond. Thanks for reading!